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Property owners’ dilemma - Frank Salt

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Should people have the right to do what they want with their properties, as long as they stick to all local rules, regulations and permits?

Over the years, one of the things that I notice about people is the evident change in their attitude when they have the possibility of earning money with their property.

Let us imagine a pensioner, or a person earning a very modest salary, suddenly inheriting a property, which can be developed personally or sold for a lot of money to a developer.

This potential large sum of money can either make their own lives so much better, can perhaps help their children, or perhaps their grandchildren. Are these people likely to say no, they don’t want to join others making money out of property? They want to leave things as they are and get nothing out of their inheritance?

Of course not. Why should they? And, this is what’s happening all over Malta and Gozo. People are finding their property is now worth a lot of money and they can take advantage of that.

It’s extraordinarily difficult to do nothing in such a situation. Can you blame them? I don’t think so, because if we were honest, in the same situation we would do the same ourselves.

There are people in Malta who are always objecting when others develop property. There is a very good possibility that these people already live in a flat or a house or an old converted house, that wasn’t there or arranged before the 1960s. Or that they are in the process of looking for a property or will be doing so in the future.

Surely this is a case of “I’m alright Jack”, I’ve got one but no more. Never mind all those who still need homes.

What these people should be saying is, that there is an obvious need for property in Malta and Gozo, for various reasons, but let us try and get the authorities to allow only aesthetically attractive properties to be built, at reasonable prices, and never on areas that have never been built on before.

As times go by, we want more and more. Is this selfish? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that we can’t stand still

I have been attacked and slandered by various people, who write comments about articles I have written in the past, but over the past 50 years in a very tough real estate market, I have developed a very thick skin.

If people think that it is so easy to make money in real estate and employ nearly 200 people, then please apply for a job with our company, as we are always looking for very hardworking, honest and friendly people to work with us.

It is so difficult to keep everybody happy in such a small island. We all need the money to survive. We need businesses attracted to our country. These businesses need workers. These workers and businesses need property to work and live in.  Our expanding local population needs places to live in.

As times go by, we want more and more.  Is this selfish? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that we can’t stand still.

Let us go back a few years, the 1960s.  The Maltese economy relied greatly on the spending of the British forces living and staying in Malta.

Flats were built all over Malta to accommodate these people, who lived and spent their money here.

Then “wham”, the British said they were leaving. Malta had to change its economy practically overnight.

The government of that day, encouraged tourism, residency and light industry.  Hotels and more apartments were built to accommodate the expected tourist arrivals.

At that time the Maltese people suddenly decided to enter the property market to buy and build their own homes.  This was practically unheard of before.

Over the years more and more Maltese purchased or built property. More and more tourists came and needed accommodation. More and more businesses came to Malta.

It hasn’t stopped since the 1960s, with both political parties wanting success for Malta while in office.

I have just come back from Croatia. A beautiful country, that relies on tourism as the mainstay of its economy. Only four million people in a very large country.  Their tourism only lasts six months in the year, whereas we in Malta have had for a very long time, a booming tourism market 12 months in the year.

People are lining up to come and work in Malta and we need them.

Businesses want to come to Malta. Do we turn them away?

It’s not easy to juggle things around to satisfy everybody. I would say almost impossible. But is it not better to have ways and means of earning a good living for our families here in Malta, rather than have to go abroad to find work?

There is a solution to all these problems without jeopardising our standard of living.

Make sure that all new buildings are built in existing built-up areas and built in a careful and clean way, and that the end product is a credit to our country, and not just another ugly mess. This can be and should be controlled by the Planning Authority.

Make sure that all visitors to our islands should be careful while they are here and look after our environment.

Make sure that we Maltese also look after our country and are careful not to disfigure and destroy our surroundings.

More people on our roads and pavements need more regulation and supervision. Get it and do it.

The ironic thing is, that if we go by the standard of cleanliness in our homes, then Malta and Gozo should be spotless.

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